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By Autumn Parry / The Californian
BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer email@example.com
The Bakersfield City Council on Wednesday will consider spending $952,000 to run the county animal shelter it is taking over, and approving a legal step toward paying the city's share in the Thomas Roads Improvement Program.
Spending at least $742,000 to hire the Bakersfield SPCA to manage the animal shelter it will take over from Kern County, and no more than $210,000 to staff the shelter with nine clients of the Bakersfield Homeless Center, is a good deal, a city official said.
HOW TO GO
The Bakersfield City Council meets at 5:15 p.m. at City Hall council chambers, 1501 Truxtun Ave. Meetings also may be viewed live on cable channel KGOV. Past meetings can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/qfatap5.
"When you look at the experience the SPCA has in running a shelter and caring for the animals they're going to be charged with, we think it's a fair agreement and has advantages for both sides," Assistant to the City Manager Steve Teglia said.
The SPCA agreement is based on an estimated annual intake of 10,000 animals and is for one year, from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, 2014, with three one-year extensions.
It would include $290,000 in staffing costs for a veterinarian, two assistant veterinarians, two animal care workers and two adoption counselors to work at the Mount Vernon Avenue shelter.
Also in the agreement is a flat SPCA management fee of $97,000, and a $100,000 cost to manage the kennel population, which could rise if more than 10,000 animals are taken in per year. Teglia said that in six months, the city and SPCA will reevaluate animal intake at the shelter, which the city has renamed the City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center.
The council also will consider spending an amount not to exceed $210,000 to hire nine Bakersfield Homeless Center clients as kennel workers -- for the same one-year term, with the possibility for three one-year extensions. The workers will be paid minimum wage, and will work an estimated 28 to 29 hours per week, Teglia said.
Funding for both agreements will come from money in the Bakersfield Police Department's operating budget that the city was planning to pay Kern County to operate the shelter it ran on city land, until the city kicked the county out last month.
The council also is expected to discuss a validation action, the legal next step toward eventually borrowing $270 million to pay the city's contribution to the federally funded Thomas Roads Improvement Program projects.
The council will not be voting to borrow the money at the meeting. A court action is necessary because of the amount of money the city plans to borrow, and to evaluate its three payment sources.
"We're filing something for a court to determine the validity of us borrowing this amount of money under this structure, using these sources for repayment," Finance Director Nelson Smith said. "We're pledging utility surcharge revenue, gas tax funds and transportation development funds to pay for that."
Ward 2 Councilman Terry Maxwell said he intends to question whether the city should remove two controversial TRIP projects -- the Centennial Corridor connection between Highway 58 and the Westside Parkway, and widening 24th Street -- from the validation action, and let residents decide if they're wanted.
"Do we go forward with the validation action (as is), or do we choose ... to go ahead and have a vote of the people?" Maxwell asked. "The arguments will be laid out tomorrow night."
Filing the validation will cost between $15,000 and $25,000. If the validation is challenged in court, the city estimates defense costs at $175,000 to $225,000.
City officials repeatedly have warned that if any of the TRIP projects are delayed, the $570 million in transportation funds secured for them by former U.S. Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Bakersfield, could be raided by other agencies.
If the city opts not to pursue certain TRIP projects, officials have said it could have to pay back as much as $80 million.